Brady United, a gun control advocacy group, has taken a step further to politicize the tragic, anti-Semitic shooting at the Chabad of Poway in 2019.
In April 2019, a 19-year-old who was inspired by a series of fanatics stormed the Chabad of Poway synagogue and opened fire with an AR-15-style gun. He killed a 60-year-old woman and injured the rabbi along with two other people. In addition to the shootings, the gunman set fire to a mosque in Escondido. State prosecutors are seeking the death penalty as retribution for these heinous crimes.
Brady United seems to be blaming every person possible by filing lawsuits against the shooter’s parents; the gun store, San Diego Guns; and the weapon’s manufacturer, Smith & Wesson. The lawsuit is centered around the failure to “use reasonable care” as well as making the rifle “easily modifiable.” According to San Diego County Gun Owners Executive Director Michael Schwartz, the lawsuit is “blaming the gun shop and manufacturer for the actions of a highly disturbed monster.”
Brady Legal Chief Counsel Jonathan Lowly is arguing that the design, marketing, and sale of assault weapons attracts and facilitates mass shooters. Brady United’s argument is flawed, at best. They are accusing Smith & Wesson of the inexcusable actions of a criminal. A weapon is either legal for sale or not. It’s important to have clear guidelines that manufacturers must adhere to when producing and distributing their products. Smith & Wesson adhered to these guidelines. It’s a dangerous slippery slope to say that a firearm is legal at one point in time, but illegal after it is in the hands of a maniac. The maniac’s actions are illegal, not the tool used to carry them out. This action should be seen as shifting the goalposts of justice.
There is uncertainty surrounding the validity of the shooter’s gun license. CBS 8 reports that while he was qualified for a hunting license, which allows someone in California under the age of 21 to purchase a gun, it was not valid until July. However, Schwartz believes that San Diego Guns followed “state law to the letter and communicated with California DOJ flawlessly.” Since the gun was purchased by someone who held a legitimate, legal, and unaltered permit issued by the State of California, the only person that justice needs to hold responsible is the gunman.
Many groups such as San Diego County Gun Owners are calling this recent move to sue these groups an act to profit off of the victims. By challenging settled law (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act), Brady United could be seen as wasting the court’s time and resources for no reason. Schwartz added that “the manufacturer is no more to blame than Ford or Chrysler is to blame for drunk driving.” If this lawsuit succeeds, it will create a dangerous precedent for law-abiding gun store owners and manufacturers.